Maravarman Sundara Pandya I (AD 1216 to AD 1238) was either the son or the younger brother of his predecessor but even this cannot be stated with certainty. It is more probable that he was the younger brother. He held titles like Sonadukondan, Kaliyugarama etc.
His inscriptions contain elaborate prefaces in verse. But the events are often narrated in a conventional manner. This Pandyan and Chola Rajaraja III came to the throne almost simultaneously. But Sundara Pandya was just the opposite of his Chola counterpart in character and in ability.
It has been said that Kulottunga III cut off Virapandya’s head and it was on that head that he put his foot and it was this insult which made Maravarman Sundrara Pandya to think of revenge. This perhaps was not the real reason. He must have been motivated by the desire to correct a political situation in which the Cholas could always hold down the Pandyas. So he invaded the Chola country in AD 1219, defeated Rajaraja III set fire to Raiyur and Tanjore and annexed part of the kingdom, ordered Rajaraja to pay tribute and assumed the title SonadukondaruliyaL
It was in this context that Hoysala Vira Ballala III and his son Vira Narasimha entered the Tamil country. During the first Pandyan invasion the Chola queen also fell into the hands of the conqueror who carried his captives to Mudikonda Cholapuram where he had another coronation. Records of the third decade of the 13th century speak of Vira Narasimha’s occupation of Srirangam. A record of Sundra Pandya mentions the defeat and dethronement of Rajaraja III.
In spite of mutual hostility and war the Chol^, Hoysala and Pandya families were matrimonially related. Vira Ballala II had married a Chola princess. Rajendra III calls Somesvara an uncle of his. Probably Maravarman Sundara Pandya I married a sister of Somesvara. But the Hoysala-Chola relations seem to have been more intimate than the Hoysala-Pandya relations.
The Pandya who withdrew as a result of Hoysala intervention was obliged to invade the Chola country again in 1231 for Rajaraja III had failed to pay the promised tribute. This time there was no Hoysala help for the Chola and the Pandya had the field entirely for himself. The Pandya refrained from annexing any part of the Chola country till the Chola passed away.
This Pandya had many important officials of whom Cholan Uyyaninran was particularly important. He built a good part of the Vishnu temple at Uruttangal. He endowed the village Tennanchirrur for conducting religious service in the temple.